What is it?
These are Kuhlmaulschuh, “cow-mouth” shoes, as seen in the attached extant shoes and period imagery, sewn out of leather with a separate wool lining / inner shoe / short over-sock.
What was it used for and who used it?
This pair of shoes and inner shoes is meant to reflect those which might have been worn by a trossfrau, a follower of the landsknecht, although similar shoes were worn by both men and women throughout Germany and the rest of Europe (Baker).
These shoes are intended to reflect German fashion in 1535, although I also referenced the construction of a pair of English shoes of the same time frame in the V&A museum in the construction process (Victoria and Albert Museum “Shoe”). The idea for the inner sock is taken from an inner sock found in Regensburg (Ahlen-Cordero and “Anna”).
What materials and process were used in period? What is different from the period version in materials or process?
These are leather shoes, sewn with waxed linen thread, using a turnsole technique, with an additional sole and welt added for durability, and a decorative, removable wool lining, also sewn with linen thread. The leather is vegetable tanned leather – I chose to use a fairly lightweight leather for ease of sewing and because it appears to match that of the V&A shoe. Although it won’t be as durable as other options, inventories show that middle-class families ordered as many as 10 pairs of shoes per year, per person, so comfort and ease of construction may have been more of a priority (Zander-Schneidel)
1. Decorative binding.
6. Outer Sole
Diagram from Rainer Atzbach (figure 12)
In general, these followed period practices in construction although I did not use a last in sewing them together, which a period cobbler probably would have (Carlson). Turnsoles were still in common use in the early 15th century, especially in lower-class versions – welts were just beginning to be added with outer soles (Atzbach). This particular pair of shoes was assembled based on the above diagram of shoes found in a cache in Kempten, German, from around 1500 (Atzbach).
Extant Kuhlmaulschuh pattern from Stepping Through Time. (Classe “Lesson 10”)
The biggest difference in construction from period practice is that I used a duct-tape pattern rather than constructing a last and draping the leather directly into the shape of the shoe – I used duct tape and a sock to duplicate the shape of my foot, then added seam lines based on extant shoes / socks (McNealy, Ahlen-Cordero and Chasse) . As carving a last was outside the scope of this project, this was an acceptable substitution.
I do not own Stepping Through Time but I referenced a pattern found on Francis Chasse’s website from the book in determining the seam placement for the shoes, as well as the extant shoe from the V&A.
Shoe in Progress…
More pictures to come.
What would I do differently in a future version?
Future shoe experiments include making lasts so that I can make a heavier leather version of these, fully welted rather than turned. I also need to acquire a copy of Stepping Through Time so I can reference patterns directly.